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Legal Aid and coronavirus

See also: Coronavirus resources#Newer resources

Information

Remote hearings

The LAA have confirmed that level 3 payments will be paid for remote hearings: Legal Aid Agency, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): remote working' (14/4/20).

The adjourned hearing fee is also payable in the circumstances set out in new rules: Legal Aid Agency, 'Civil news: fee rules change for mental health remote hearings' (16/7/20).

Evidence of means

The guidance in Legal Aid Agency, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): working with clients' (14/4/20) states: "Where a client is staying at home, it may still be possible to collect evidence by email or post. Reasonable efforts to collect evidence should still be made and recorded, before assessing without evidence if that is not possible. … When the LAA assess Civil or Crime Applications under any scheme we will exercise the same discretion as above. Providers should submit what evidence they have available and highlight any issues they have had collecting other documentation."

The guidance refers to specification paragraph 3.24 which states: “You may assess the prospective Client’s means without the accompanying evidence where: (a) it is not practicable to obtain it before commencing the Controlled Work; (b) pre signature telephone advice is given; or (c) exceptionally, the personal circumstances of the Client (such as the Client’s age, mental disability or homelessness) make it impracticable for the evidence to be supplied at any point in the case.”

Resources

Legal Aid Agency

  • LAA coronavirus guidance. Legal Aid Agency, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): Legal Aid Agency contingency response' (18/3/20) — This LAA web page is the main source of Legal Aid guidance, and contains links to various sub-pages.
    • LAA contract guidance. Legal Aid Agency, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): contract management and assurance' (14/4/20) — This web page, which is a sub-page of Legal Aid Agency, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): Legal Aid Agency contingency response' (18/3/20), contains information about working with contract management, reducing administrative activity for providers, office and supervisory arrangements, and quality mark accreditation. Under the heading "Designated Accredited Representatives in Mental Health cases" it states: "We understand the current situation may mean you are unable to meet the requirements of the contract regarding designated accreditation representatives, including where an individual is not able to meet the 14-hour requirement. You should document the reasons why, but we will not take any action in this situation. It will remain a requirement all advocates before the tribunal except self-employed counsel must be members of the Law Society’s Mental Health Accreditation Scheme."
    • LAA coronavirus guidance. Legal Aid Agency, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): working with clients' (14/4/20) — This web page, which is a sub-page of Legal Aid Agency, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): Legal Aid Agency contingency response' (18/3/20), includes information relating to making Legal Aid applications, assessing financial eligibility where a client cannot attend, using digital signatures, client finances and contributions, approach to emergency certificates, and operation of the statutory charge. (1) In relation to assessing eligibility it states: "Where a client is staying at home, it may still be possible to collect evidence by email or post. Reasonable efforts to collect evidence should still be made and recorded, before assessing without evidence if that is not possible." (2) In relation to signatures the advice, since 24/3/20, has included: "In situations where it is not possible to get a client signature, digitally or otherwise, please make a note on the file explaining why, countersigned by a supervisor, and also make a note on the application/form when submitted to avoid delays or issues with processing. Please seek a signature at the earliest possible opportunity. ... [S]upervisor signatures may also be provided digitally to enable effective remote supervision, as long as they are clearly related to the relevant file notes."
    • LAA contract guidance. Legal Aid Agency, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): contract management and assurance' (14/4/20) — This web page, which is a sub-page of Legal Aid Agency, 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): Legal Aid Agency contingency response' (18/3/20), contains information about working with contract management, reducing administrative activity for providers, office and supervisory arrangements, and quality mark accreditation. Under the heading "Designated Accredited Representatives in Mental Health cases" it states: "We understand the current situation may mean you are unable to meet the requirements of the contract regarding designated accreditation representatives, including where an individual is not able to meet the 14-hour requirement. You should document the reasons why, but we will not take any action in this situation. It will remain a requirement all advocates before the tribunal except self-employed counsel must be members of the Law Society’s Mental Health Accreditation Scheme."
  • Civil escape case claims. LAA, 'Contingency Measure for Civil Escape Cases - Electronic Submission' (24/3/20) — As a temporary measure, the LAA are requiring that these be submitted electronically. The guidance document contains full details.
  • Adjournment fee for remote hearing. Legal Aid Agency, 'Civil news: fee rules change for mental health remote hearings' (16/7/20) — (1) The LAA has amended the Standard Civil Contract 2018 to specify that the adjourned hearing fee may be claimed for remote hearings where the representative has incurred travel, advocacy or (if 15 minutes elapse since the scheduled or actual start time) provided that reasonable steps were taken to prevent those costs being necessary. (2) The new rule will be applied retrospectively.

Other organisations

See also